Monday: The Abrahamic Covenant

What covenant promises did God make to Abram in Genesis 12:1–5? What was Abram’s response? 1

God’s initial promises to Abram make up one of the more powerful passages in the Old Testament. These verses all are about God’s grace. It is God, not Abram, who makes the promises. Abram had done nothing to earn or merit God’s favor, neither is there any indication that suggests that God and Abram had somehow worked together to come up with this agreement. God does all the promising. Abram, in contrast, is called to have faith in the surety of God’s promise, not some flimsy so-called “faith” but a faith that is manifested by his leaving his extended family (at the age of seventy-five!) and heading to the land God promised.

“With the ‘blessing’ pronounced on Abraham and through him on all human beings, the Creator renewed His redemptive purpose. He had ‘blessed’ Adam and Eve in Paradise (Gen. 1:285:2) and then ‘blessed Noah and his sons’ after the flood (9:1). This way God clarified His earlier promise of a Redeemer who will redeem humanity, destroy evil, and restore Paradise (Gen. 3:15). God confirmed His promise to bless ‘all peoples’ in His universal outreach.”—Hans K. LaRondelle, Our Creator Redeemer, pp. 22, 23.

After ten years of waiting for the promised son to be born, what questions did Abram have about God’s promise? Gen. 15:1–6.  

It often is easy to glorify Abram as the man of faith who never had any questions or doubts. Scripture, however, paints a different picture. Abram believed, but he also had questions along the way. His faith was a growing faith. Like the father in Mark 9:24, Abram basically said to God in Genesis 15:8, “I believe, help my unbelief.” In response, God graciously assured Abram of the certainty of His promise by formally entering into a covenant with him (Gen. 15:7–18). What makes this passage so surprising is not the fact that God enters a covenant with Abraham but the extent to which God was willing to condescend to do so. Unlike other rulers in the ancient Near East, who balked at the idea of making binding promises with their servants, God not only gave His word, but, by symbolically passing through the pieces of slaughtered animals, He staked His very life on it. Of course, Jesus ultimately give His life on Calvary to make His promise a reality.

What are some areas now where you have to reach out by faith and believe in what seems impossible? How can you learn to keep holding on, no matter what?



Monday: The Abrahamic Covenant — 3 Comments

  1. It is most interesting that the same Divine Covenant is repeated in relationship to instances in the Bible. The question for me is when restated, is God actualy renewing His Convenant with us. And if so, has He renewed the conditions of the Convenant. Of course, I think so but confirmation from studing this issuse would prove pleasant.


  2. God's promises are sure.
    And Christ "is able also to save them to the uttermost" (Heb. 7:25)

    Yes, God does all the saving, we can earn nothing to merit it. Yet, there are conditions. Why was only Abraham chosen and offered the glorious covenant of salvation?

    And why did so many of Abraham's descendants lose out on the covenant promises?
    Why was Jacob chosen and not Esau?

    What were the conditions?
    It was NOT their flawless character, for they were not flawless.

    I think Isaiah spells out the condition--

    Isaiah 1:18-20 Come now, and let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
    If ye be willing and obedient,...
    But if you refuse and rebel you shall be devoured...

    Are we willing to trust and obey?

    Esau had despised the blessings of the covenant. The things of this world were more important to him, so he was excluded.

    Jacob's desires were for the spiritual -- even though he sinned with all his connivings and lying, God saw his heart and its desires for spiritual things. And by God's grace the sinful elements of his character were consumed in God's furnace, the true gold was refined, until faith was brought to full maturity.

    The condition is faith -- it is to take hold of faith (for even faith is a gift) and start walking with Christ, placing our full dependence upon Him.

    Had Abraham remained in Ur, and not stepped out in faith I don't believe we would be reading about him in the Bible, nor about the covenant made with Abraham and his descendants.

    Hebrews 11:8-10 tells us it was by faith Abraham obeyed and followed God's call. His focus was on heavenly things rather than earthly things.

    And who are the descendants of Abraham who will inherit the promises?

    In John 8:33-42 Jesus makes some plain statements that being a physical descendant is not the criteria.

    Galatians makes many more plain statements:

    Gal. 3:7 You know therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.
    Gal. 3:9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
    Gal. 3:29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

    Ephesians 2:12 At one time you (Gentiles) were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:
    2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who were outside are made near by the blood of Christ.
    2:14 For he is our peace, who has made both (Jew and Gentile) one, and has broken down the middle wall of partition

  3. As my wife and I were reviewing this lesson she made an - to me - unexpected statement. Ida has been a SDA all of her life and attended church school in the 1940-ies. Her former mother-in-law was an active Bible worker, but Ida did not become a (retired) pastor's wife until 6 years ago. She said she was amazed to hear so much about grace and justification by faith in recent years and in these lessons because previously she only heard the Advent message presented as righteousness by keeping the law.

    This tells me how important these lessons are.



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